Man says he doesn't remember killing wife, mother-in-law

Elmer Banner tells detectives he doesn't recall the murders

Elmer Banner
Elmer Banner

LAKE NONA, Fla. – A Lake Nona man told detectives he was unaware he shot and killed his wife and mother-in-law.

Elmer Banner also claimed he did not know how he had wound up in the hospital after being shot by a police officer during a standoff outside his home in February, according to newly-released court records.

"I don't remember anything," Banner told detectives from his hospital bed at ORMC the day after authorities said he murdered the two women. "Can you tell me?"

The detectives explained to Banner what they believed had happened the prior evening: Banner turned off the power to his home, went upstairs to his 14-year-old son's bedroom, handed the teen a 9mm handgun and told him, "it is time."

According to investigators, Banner shot and killed his mother-in-law Carol Minich in the house. As Banner's wife, Debra, ran into the room to see what had happened, Banner shot her several times in the chest, said police.

When officers arrived at the family's Lake Nona home, they confronted Banner in the backyard. According to a report, when Banner refused to put down his weapon, an officer shot him in the leg.

"No. How can that be?" Banner said to detectives in his hospital room as they retold the story. "I don't remember this stuff. What is going on?"

Banner denied having any marital or financial problems, according to the interview. Several friends and family members interviewed by police also believed the couple had a strong marriage and financial security from Banner's painting and quail-hunting businesses.

But one of Banner's co-workers told investigators that Banner had talked about divorcing his wife after their children turned 18 years old. "You could almost tell he was there only because of the kids," said Guy Semmler.

Banner's mother-in-law had recently moved into the couple's home after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's, according to interviews. One co-worker told investigators he believed Banner did not want to take care of the 70-year-old.

None of Banner's friends or family members had seen him become violent in the past, according to reports.

However, Banner's ex-wife described a volatile and abusive relationship that she said led to their divorce in 1994, three months before Banner married Debra. Gina Banner told detectives her ex-husband frequently used steroids and would "go into a rage", breaking things, ripping phones out of the walls, and disabling her car so she could not leave.

Early in their marriage, Gina Banner asked her ex-husband to give away two dogs they had recently taken into their home. When she returned home from the grocery store, she discovered Banner had shot the dogs and "staged their bodies in the driveway" for her to see, according to reports.

As detectives stood in Banner's hospital bed telling him about the two murders he allegedly committed, the 43-year-old asked to speak to an attorney. "I'm just scared," Banner told police. "I don't know what's going on."

"By all accounts Elmer was a loving father and husband," Banner's attorney, Mark NeJame, said in March. "Everyone who knows him and his family are completely baffled by this. We are investigating everything thoroughly, and more will come out as we continue looking into it."